Wednesday, 8 February 2017

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 211.



But because this divine providence is the greatest treasure a Christian has, and on his hopes and assurance of being protected by it depends the increase of his holy confidence and joy; it will be to our purpose here to make use of some passages of the Scripture, in proof of those immense riches wherewith God blesses the just. In Ecclesiasticus (ch. xxxiv. 19, 20) it is said, "The eyes of the Lord are upon them that fear him, he is their powerful protector, and strong stay, a defence from the heat, and a cover from the sun at noon. A preservation from stumbling, and a help from falling, he raiseth up the soul, and enlighteneth the eyes, and giveth health, and life and blessing." The royal prophet says, " With the Lord shall the steps of a man be directed, and he shall like well his way. When he shall fall, he shall not be bruised, for the Lord putteth his hand under him." Ps. xxxvi. 23, 24. What harm can he come to who falls so soft, and is supported by the hand of God ? He says again, in another place, " Many are the afflictions of the just: but out of them all will the Lord deliver them. The Lord keepeth all their bones, not one of them shall be broken;" Ps. xxxiii. 20, 21. This providence is yet much more magnified in the Gospel; for our Saviour himself there not only tells us, that he takes care of all their bones, but of their very hairs, that not one of them may be lost; (Luke xxi. 18); thus, to express in how extraordinary a manner he protects them; for what is there he will not look after, who does not neglect the very hair of our heads? If this be a declaration of his great concern for us, what the prophet Zachary (ch. ii. 8) tells us expresses it no less: " Whosoever," says he, " shall touch you, touches the apple of my eye." It were much had he said, "Whosoever shall touch you, touches me;" but " Whosoever shall touch you, touches the apple of my eye," is still much more.

Nor does he only look after us himself, but has also committed us to the care of his angels: and, therefore, David says, " He hath given his angels charge over thee; to keep thee in all thy ways. In their hands they shall bear thee up: lest thou dash thy foot against a stone;" Ps. xc. 11, 12. Thus, our good angels, like elder brothers, carry the just men in their arms ; for not knowing how to walk by themselves, they have need of another to lead them. Nor are the angels content to serve them thus in this life only, but even at their death too, as appears by the poor man in the Gospel, who, after he was dead, " was carried by angels into Abraham's bosom; " Luke xvi. 22. We are told also in another psalm, " The angel of the Lord shall encamp round about them that fear him: and shall deliver them ; " Ps. xxxiii. 8. Or, as St. Jerome renders it more expressive, " The angel of the Lord has pitched his camp about those that live in his fear, to preserve them;" B. 4, c. 6, v. 15, 16, 17. What king has such a guard about his person as this ? We see it plainly in a passage of the Book of Kings, where we read, that as the king of Syria's army was marching toward Samaria, with a design to take the prophet Elisha, the holy man took notice of the concern his servant was in at the sight of so formidable an army, and prayed to God that he would be pleased to open the young man's eyes, and let him see that there was a much greater army ready to defend them than that of their enemies. God heard the prophet's prayer; whereon the young man saw the whole mountain covered with horse and fiery chariots, and Elisha in the midst of them. We read of such another guard in the Canticles (ch. vii. 1), in these words: "What will you see in the Sulamite," which is the figure of the Church, and of a soul in a state of grace, " but the companies of an army," which is composed of angels ? The same thing is signified by the spouse, under another figure, in the same book (ch. iii. 7, 8), where it is said, " Behold threescore valiant ones of the most valiant of Israel, surround the bed of Solomon: all holding swords, and most expert in war: every man's sword upon his thigh, because of fears in the night." What is all this, but a lively representation made by the Holy Ghost, under these figures, of that care the divine providence has over the souls of the just? For how can a man, who is conceived in sin, who lives in a body so naturally inclined to evil, and who is surrounded with so many dangers, preserve himself for several years from committing any mortal crime, did not the divine providence secure and keep him from it?